What NASCAR Taught Us About PR

PrintNot too long ago we executed a NASCAR®-related product PR campaign for a client. This was a first for us.

While successful, it solidified a few things we already preach regarding public relations, with one overarching theme…

Executing a PR / media relations campaign in one industry is the same as executing a public relations campaign in any other.

The publications and channels may change, but their basic needs and rules remain the same. Here’s what they are:

1. The More Time You Give, The Better
Believe it or not, journalists are not waiting around for PR people to contact them with story ideas. They have their own deadlines and content obligations in terms of the number of stories they need to publish or want to publish.

As great as your story may be for your brand, that doesn’t mean you can simply expect an outlet to make room for it or that a journalist will want to make time for it.

2. There Has To Be A Fit And If There Isn’t, You Bend
It’s a widely held belief that NASCAR fans fully support the brands their favorite drivers endorse.

While that may be true, the NASCAR related media outlets themselves don’t cover new product launches or brand news in the same way we think of general consumer and business publications as doing. Their focus tends to be on track drama, fines, equipment changes and paint scheme changes.

Some early, and later, extensive research into their media channels brought this to light. Along with extreme disappointment because we thought this would be a layup of a pitch.

So did we abandon the campaign? No. As the entrepreneurs and ‘influencers’ of today are fond of saying, we decided to pivot.

In addition to traditional media, we targeted people with large and engaged social media followings (we’re hesitant to every say someone with a lot of followers is an actual ‘influencer’) to secure coverage. While most of the popular accounts were owned by drivers and their pit crews who had  competing endorsement deals, there were many other people we could target, ranging from on-air broadcast talent to super fans.

3. The Easier You Make Their Job, The Better
Journalists, like the rest of us, are busy. Having all the details and assets ready and at your fingertips can go a long way in helping secure interest for a story.

Speed is a big component of grabbing the checkered flag on race day and in PR.

4. All Media Want The Same Thing
They want a compelling story for their audience that at the end of the day, will drive page views, clicks, increase ratings, increase their street cred, etc.

It’s that simple.

When that isn’t available, sometimes cash works. Advertising, sponsorships, etc. Old school PR professionals shudder at this notion, but it’s the reality of our industry today. Thankfully, we didn’t need to go this route.

When planning any PR campaign, keep these four tips in mind. They won’t guarantee success – as nothing can in PR – but they’re good steps to take to help prevent failure.

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